Sunday, November 16, 2003

Going Round About Capes

Last weekend, my friend Pete noted that DC's stable of superheroes sported more capes than Marvel's. Immediately I started a chart outlining which characters were caped and which lacked same, but the lists quickly grew out of control. The following discussion, then, focusses only on first- and second-tier characters, in roughly descending order of historical importance and cultural prominence. Basically, I've listed important heroes and villains, plus major supporting characters, who either had their own comic book or back-up feature at one time or another.

Let's begin with Marvel:

Caped Flagship Characters
The Mighty Thor
Dr. Strange
Dr. Doom
Magneto
Storm
The Scarlet Witch
The Watcher
Mysterio
The Vision

Caped Second-Tier Characters
The Black Panther
Quasar
Ms. Marvel
The Mole Man
The Black Knight

Capeless Flagship Characters
The Amazing Spider-Man
Captain America
The Incredible Hulk
Mr. Fantastic
The Invisible Woman
The Human Torch II
The Thing
Iron Man
Daredevil
Elektra
The Black Widow
Wolverine
Cyclops
Beast
Professor X
Marvel Girl
Iceman
Colossus
Nightcrawler
The Green Goblin
Dr. Octopus
Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner
The Human Torch I
Rogue
Mystique
Tigra
Galactus
The Kingpin
The Lizard
The Wasp
Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket

Capeless Second-Tier Characters
Stilt-Man
She-Hulk
Spider-Woman I
Spider-Woman II
Captain Marvel (Marvel Comics Version)
Electro
Bucky
Quicksilver
Crystal
Black Bolt
Medusa
Karnak
Scorpion
Nova

And now, DC:

Caped Flagship Characters
Superman (also as Superboy)
Supergirl
Bizarro
Batman
Robin
Batgirl
Captain Marvel (Fawcett/DC Comics version, i.e., "Shazam!")
Martian Manhunter

Caped Second-Tier Characters
Dr. Fate
Dr. Mid-Nite
The Atom I
The Phantom Stranger
Red Tornado I
Red Tornado II
Steel
Krypto, the Superdog
Beppo the Super-Monkey
Streaky the Super-Cat
Comet the Super-Horse
The Weather Wizard
Raven
Huntress

Capeless Flagship Characters
Wonder Woman I
Wonder Woman II
Aquaman
The Flash I
The Flash II
The Flash III
The Atom II
Green Lantern I (Alan Scott)
Green Lantern II (Hal Jordan)
Green Lantern III (John Stewart)
Green Lantern IV (Guy Gardner)
Green Lantern V (Kyle Rayner)
Green Arrow
Black Canary
Plastic Man
The Elongated Man
Firestorm
Zatara
Zatanna
Swamp Thing
The Joker
The Penquin
Catwoman
Poison Ivy
Mr. Freeze
The Riddler
Lex Luthor
Solomon Grundy
Brainiac
Nightwing (formerly Robin)
Jimmy Olsen
Lois Lane
Lana Lang
Perry White
Alfred Pennyworth
Dream
Death

Capeless Second-Tier Characters
Black Lightning
Blue Beetle I
Blue Beetle II
Booster Gold
Fire (formerly Green Flame)
Ice Maiden I
Ice (formerly Ice Maiden II)
Captain Boomerang
Slam Bradley
Dr. Occult
Johnny Thunder and the Thunderbolt
Mr. Mxyzptlk
The Parasite
Titano, the Super-Ape
Gorilla Grodd
Detective Chimp
Angel and the Ape
Congorilla
Cyborg
Captain Atom
Starfire
Wonder Girl/Troia
Speedy/Arsenal
The Creeper
Shade, the Changing Man
Desire
Destiny
Despair
Destruction
Delerium (formerly Delight)
Brother Power, the Geek
Prez Rickard
Kamandi


This list is by no means comprehensive, but I think I've included most of the heroes and villains that the general public has any hope of recognizing. The results? I think it's clear that Marvel and DC have actually made less use of capes than is generally acknowleged, though it's notable that most of the universally recognized DC characters (Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel) are caped, while those of Marvel (Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America) are capeless.

Did this exercise have a point? I've forgotten. Next time, let's talk about the super-animals phenomenon, or maybe all the different colours of Kryptonite. Whee!

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